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I did the “wrapup” at BeyondBroadcast, and tried to talk about the thought I keep coming back to but am never able to articulate. At least it was brief – under 10 minutes, I think. Here’s the outline of what I said:

1. What’s the thread between participatory culture and participatory democracy? Why think one has to do with the other? How can participatory culture be “transformative,” as Henry Jenkins suggested in his terrific opening talk. (Digression: The mainstream media are focused on including “user-generated content” on their sites as their response to participatory culture, but that’s not transformative.)

2. Well, what is democracy. There are bunches of definitions: Majority vote, society of equals, government that gets its authority from the people. But most important, it’s ours. The government isn’t theirs, the way it was the king’s.

3. So, what does “ours” mean? Again, there are bunches of definitions: What the law gives you control over, on our side, of our nature or essence. But, when it comes to culture, look at the difference between your study of a foreign culture and your participation in yours. Culture is ours because it makes us who we are; we are indistinguishable from it.

4. But, participatory culture is changing the nature and topology of ours. It’s ours in a different way. We can create works with strangers, with anonymous crowds, and in all the other ways we’re inventing. This is a very different sense of ours. And it’s not just that we can build Wikipedia or Flickr streams. We also get to make these works matter to one another: That we can surface and pass around the video or the prose so that it becomes a shared cultural object also changes the nature of the ours.

5. So, how does this new ours affect democracy? (And it’s more likely to affect democracy before it affects politics since those folks have a death grip on power.) How does this ours get turned into an us that operates politically? I dunno. I.e., this talks makes no progress on the question it raises :( [Tags: ]

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